Sunday, June 30, 2019

Francis' Favorites: #1 - The Blues Brothers

Here we are at the top -- the film I consider the most influential on my life, as well as my favorite. The Blues Brothers is mishmash of music and mayhem, with some of the most memorable movie action sequences thrown alongside a cavalcade of classic rhythm and blues.

A look at the films
that have left a mark on my life.

I'm now counting down the
films that left the biggest marks.
Like so many great films, it's hard to fathom how this film got made, given the totality of what it does. Besides its two title stars, it gets the legendary James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Cab Calloway. It also features John Candy and Carrie Fisher (in her most memorable non-Star Wars role). It features some wild, over-the-top car chases. And it trashes a mall.

I could devote an entire blog post to the difficulty and danger of this one sequence, which added millions of dollars to the film's budget. (The film's total cost ended up around $30 million.) The mall torn up was an actual mall, the former Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Illinois, which had been closed for about a year when the producers needed it. They were able to get many of the original tenants to come back and redecorate the storefronts, and they borrowed cars from a local dealer to fill the lots. Under the deals they worked out, they only had to pay for the things they broke.

The number of cars trashed in this movie is a testament to innovation and grindstone work. The production ran a 24-hour body shop to repair prop cars that were used over and over again, having been picked up cheaply in the first place.

If you love rhythm and blues, you'll love this picture. But my favorite number is an unforgettable rendition of Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man."

I know people who can quote just about every line in this film. I'm one of them. I also met another while working at Six Flags Over Mid-America. Many people call this a classic cult film. I can't say that about a film that made more than $100 million at the box office despite production difficulties, budget overruns, and racism that kept this film from playing in wide release in the south. It's a film I never get tired of seeing. For me, it doesn't have any throwaway scenes -- except for the extended cut that came out on DVD with bonus material, proving some things on the cutting room floor belong there.

And it's my #1 favorite movie.

No comments: